Holy Rule for Dec. 12
Prayers for the eternal rest of Ken, who passed away after several years of suffering, and for his spouse and family as they move forward with faith.
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, phyiscal and temporal welfare of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
Owen, has an interview that is important.
Bob, had surgery.
Elaine, extensive surgery to try to control her cancer. She has other serious health problems so will need lots of prayers.
Siobhan and her parents, they have home health aides 24/7, but not sure how long they can keep up with the expense, and they have some adjustments to make.
Em and Don, failing in health, living alone and insisting on remaining such; that they realize they are alienating those who love them, and that they both could use help.
Fred, dealing with serious repercussions of surgery for oral cancer. The biggest problem is an enormously long blood clot in his leg, which doctors aren't sure how to treat. Please also include in your prayers his wife, Leslie.
Tom, on his birthday, many more ad multos annos.
Lord help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is
mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
April 12, August 12, December 12
Chapter 58: On the Manner of Receiving Sisters
When she is to be received she promises before all in the oratory
stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience. This promise
she shall make before God and His Saints,
so that if she should ever act otherwise, she may know that she
will be condemned by Him whom she mocks. Of this promise of hers
let her draw up a document in the name of the Saints whose relics
are there and of the Abbess who is present. Let her write this
document with her own hand; or if she is illiterate, let another
write it at her request,
and let the novice put her mark to it. Then let her place it with
her own hand upon the altar;
and when she has placed it there, let the novice at once intone
this verse: "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I
shall live: and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Ps. 118
:116). Let the whole community answer this verse three times
and add the "Glory be to the Father." Then let the novice prostrate
herself at each one's feet,
that they may pray for her. And from that day forward let her be
counted as one of the community.
If she has any property, let her either give it beforehand to the
poor or by solemn donation bestow it on the monastery, reserving
nothing at all for herself, as indeed she knows that from that day
forward she will no longer have power even over her own body. At
once, therefore, in the oratory, let her be divested of her own
clothes which she is wearing
and dressed in the clothes of the monastery. But let the clothes of
which she was divested
be put aside in the wardrobe and kept there. Then if she should
ever listen to the persuasions of the devil and decide to leave the
monastery (which God forbid), she may be divested of the monastic
clothes and cast out. Her document, however, which the Abbess has
taken from the altar, shall not be returned to her, but shall be
kept in the monastery.
The Church approves religious rules. This is the basis for
asserting that our Holy Rule is inspired by the Holy Spirit,
because the Church gave its seal of approval. The Church, however,
is indubitably older and often wiser than monastic life. It predates every
form of optional religious commitment. It is the blessing of the Church
which makes official monastic life possible for any and all of us.
This is just a prelude to saying that the wisdom of the Church long
ago stopped people from making solemn vows, a life-long commitment
difficult to break, right out of novitiate. Not only does this
longer program protect people, to a certain extent, from making a
mistake, it also spares the monastery from having a lot of
undesirables with chapter votes running the show. There are
some I have known who left in simple vows for whose exit I remain
eternally grateful! Thanks be to God that they were never chapter
members with votes. What a zoo that would have been!
A year may well have been enough in St. Benedict's time. People had
vastly shorter life spans, it was a bigger chunk of their lives.
They also had to grow up more quickly and their options were fewer
by far than those of our own day.
Oblates, therefore, can garner a few kernels of truth in this
chapter about commitment, that bugbear of the baby boomer
generation and beyond. Modern people find it terribly hard to
commit, some never manage it at all. As such, a bit of wisdom older
than our own age may be very useful in our everyday lives.
Benedictines are not people afraid of commitment, but we live in a
world where many are. Our witness here must be care and balance. We
must resolutely walk BETWEEN the extremes of foolhardy haste and
crippling fear. In the world of today, that is no small witness and
no easy task. Pull this one off, and you have a done a service to
many, not just to yourself!
Love and prayers,
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Prayers, please, for Kathleen, 92, having esophageal surgery, many problems, badly needs prayers.
Prayers, please, for Adolfo and his wife, Mary Carmen.
Prayers for Chris, on his 42nd birthday, graces galore and many more!
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL.
January 17, May 18, September 17
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.
But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).
The key here is not to contend insolently; there is no proscription
against telling the Abbot one feels something is amiss, so long as it
is done respectfully and humbly. We are Benedictines, not fascists;
we have a Father, not a Fuhrer.
Human nature being what it is, people are usually more prone to cite
the Abbot's responsibility to seek counsel than they are to cite the
equally important proscription against contending with one's Abbot!
There's a cure for that and many other ills buried within this
chapter, a telling phrase whose observance promises peace. That
little gem urges the monastics not to follow their "own heart's
Follow that gem and peace abounds! For one thing, whether abbot or
monastic, parent or child, boss or employee, the focus of the
relationship ceases to become self. None of us are anywheres near the
big deal we'd either like to be or think ourselves to be! Much of
what seems earth-shattering to us is really small stuff, indeed.
This is so important to monastic struggle because it is so intricately
interwoven with detachment and holy indifference. We must learn how
to hold onto our inner peace, how to safeguard it from damage at the
hands of trivia. An abject TERRIBLE day for us, one when we are so
hurt or angry that the world seems to have stopped, is just another average
day for the rest of the community. Until, of course we decide we ARE
the center of the universe and ruin it for them... Cling to that
knowledge of trivia and less will suffer!
At that point of recognizing trivia, truth and therefore, humility
enter into the equation. We need very good "trivia
detectors" and their default setting must be aimed at ourselves,
rarely cast elsewhere except in cases of really great need. We can
keep those detectors more than amply busy just in our own hearts
and wills! We need to know deception, falsity, trivia, but it is
essential to know them first in ourselves.
If these good tools of detection are aimed only at others, the result
will be pride and a fall, not humility and truth. Jesus said "I am
the Truth," and to Him we must prefer nothing. Hence, our first
desire must always be the truth and the truth is that the earth does
not revolve around us as an axis!
Our age, particularly, has embraced the idea of "Follow your bliss!"
Well, maybe...sometimes.... but maybe not, too. Our "bliss" is no
guarantee of infallibility. Years ago, and for many years of my life,
I thought my "bliss" would be very different from where I finally wound up.
As a handy rule of thumb, I would say that the will of God quite
often looks nothing like bliss at first. Hence, confusing bliss with
the divine will can be very risky. The will of God often BECOMES
bliss when we are in the midst of following it, or in hindsight, but we
have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into that compliance!
Love and prayers,
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